North Korea Launches Multiple Ballistic Missiles into Sea of Japan; Seen as Reaction to Failed Satellite Launch

Jiji Press
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Thursday.

North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles Thursday morning, with all believed to have fallen outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the Defense Ministry said the same day.

The missiles were fired from inland toward the northeast at 6:13 a.m. According to the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, more than ten missiles were fired.

The Defense Ministry said at least one of the missiles reached a maximum altitude of about 100 kilometers and flew a distance of more than 350 kilometers.

No damage to aircraft or ships has been confirmed so far, it said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that the launch was made from the vicinity of Sunan in the northern part of Pyongyang.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Based on the Defense Ministry’s announcement

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned North Korea, saying, “The launch of ballistic missiles violates [U.N. Security Council] resolutions.” His government is gathering information and monitoring the situation and plans to cooperate with the United States and South Korea, he told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The government protested to North Korea through its embassy channel in Beijing.

Diplomatic authorities from Japan, the United States and South Korea held a three-way phone call Thursday morning and confirmed that the three countries would continue to work together.

Yukiya Hamamoto, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau; Jung Pak, a senior U.S. State Department official on North Korea; and Lee Joon-il, South Korea’s director general for North Korean nuclear affairs attended the telephone conference.

Observers believe North Korea fired at least 10 missiles simultaneously in a bid to flaunt the ability of these projectiles to evade interception. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that it was unusual for North Korea to fire so many projectiles all at once.

Over the course of a single day in November 2022, Pyongyang fired at least 20 short-range ballistic and other missiles toward the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea on the western side of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea had also fired eight short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan within a span of about 35 minutes on June 5 that year.

North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that the launch of a military reconnaissance satellite the previous day had ended in failure. Given that a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee is set to be held in late June, the Japanese and South Korean governments have been wary of the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could initiate further provocations in the wake of this week’s failed launch.

According to the Defense Ministry, Thursday’s volley of launches marks the fifth time North Korea had fired ballistic missiles this year.